With the commencement of our own School (God willing) it is good to be fully aware of the conditions which have
so urgently driven this proposal forward. It is well that we take a close and careful look at the present school system that we may all realise that, whatever our circumstance, “there is no cause for complacency… The minds and lives of our children are at stake”. The following material is supplied by Brother Andrew Johns who is a High School teacher and has first hand knowledge and experience of the problems facing our young ones.

Whilst there have always been dangers associated with the education of our children in either State or Private schools, over the past five to ten years there have been some significant changes in educational policy and practice which have serious implications for Christadelphian parents. For some time, the emphasis within State schools has been shifting from the mere teaching of useful knowledge and skills to the education of the “whole person”. This may sound harmless enough; to some it may even appear to be useful. However, some of the subtle changes that have accompanied this shift have raised new dangers which have often not been readily perceived.

The principal policy document of the South Australian Department of Education (Educating for the 21st Century) released in 1990 as a blueprint for state schooling, reflects the broadening scope of influence that public schooling now claims. In its Introduction this policy states:

“The prime purpose of education is the development of the human intellect in all its dimensions— social, cultural, moral, emotional and physical…”.

Schools now have a mandate to educate children in a wide range of areas which include influencing and helping to shape our children’s moral values and thinking.

One of the greatest dangers of the present education system is that its foundation is distinctly humanistic. Humanism is based on the premise that this life is all there is, and since there is no God, there can therefore be no absolute moral standards. Further, humanists believe that man is inherently good and that human reasoning and experience alone are sufficient to guide a person to true selffulfilment in life. Hence, our children are being encouraged (under the guise of “education”) to explore, experiment with and challenge established patterns and values—in order to “find themselves” and to establish their own identity and develop their own individual set of values. This thinking is so obviously contrary to the Truth, yet it underpins the methodology of modern education. The frightening thing is that our children are now exposed to this in the classroom and from the earliest years at school. To them it appears normal, unless there is a strong Godly influence in the home to counteract it.

In 1983, an article appeared in The Humanist magazine written by John Dunphy. He wrote: “I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as proselytisers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognises and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being… The classroom must and will become the arena of conflict between the rotting corpse of Christianity and the new faith of Humanism”. Sadly, Dunphy was right, and only ten years after these words were penned, the battle was virtually over!

The influence that schooling is able to wield over our children’s thinking may at first appear to be limited and short-lived, but the long term effect can be totally destructive of faith in God and a life of self-denial and separation. It is not just the content of what is taught that is so dangerous—that can be counteracted. It is a way of thinking and the godless attitudes that go with it that are more worrying. Talk of one’s rights, equal opportunity, social justice and the lauding of the democratic spirit are appealing. With constant daily exposure to such humanist thinking (which, after all, is so natural to the flesh) it is easy to see how human reasoning and experience can undermine the power and importance of Divine revelation in our children’s minds. Many parents of teenage children are now seeing the effects of such thinking—increased assertiveness, selfishness, lack of respect for authority (including the Bible), lack of respect for parents and elders, etc.

Over the past thirty years, society has gradually accepted some radical changes—not least of which has been the changing role of men and women. Women have been encouraged to enter the workforce and strive for equality with men in every way. Motherhood has been devalued and demeaned in the process, and the Biblical roles of men and women inverted. The attitudes and beliefs which have driven this change are now enshrined in legislation and perpetuated through the education system. Our teenagers have grown up in a world like this—they have not seen the changes that we as parents have witnessed. Every day our children are exposed for many hours to a set of values and way of thinking very different from our own. They are continually receiving mixed messages and so a grave responsibility rests on us all to clearly show them God’s view (in contrast to man’s) and so help our children and grandchildren to know, appreciate and love God’s ways and His values.

As an example of what might happen in today’s classrooms, consider the following. The statements below are taken from the set of National Curriculum Statements, already adopted by South Australian authorities as a framework for teaching and learning in schools. These documents define what students should be able to do or the experiences they should have at school.

For Upper Primary School level:

  • “Students explore stereotypes related to gender, age and social and economic status and judge whether such stereotypes are valid.” • “Students identify and clarify their own values, attitudes and stereotypes.”

For High School level:

  • “They consider how traditional roles within families based on gender and age are now changing and how members of some families share household and other responsibilities.”
  • “They learn that values are social constructs and social principles, and that developing a cohesive set of personal values is a key aspect in gaining self-respect.”
  • “They discuss how different views about the roles of men and women might influence relationships.”

The effect that such thinking and activity at school might have on our children is difficult to quantify. It must have some effect and parents need to be aware of these influences and actively counteract them at home. Some schools and some teachers will pose much less threat than others, but there is no cause for complacency. The minds and lives of our children are at stake. As parents we must make our homes havens from the world, where the fear of God is evident and the Word of God is read and treasured and lived. Our own lives need to be focused and consistent. We need to talk to and listen to our children and know what they are thinking, so that we can actively influence their daily development in Godliness.